The Oompa Loompa Farmer
By: Neil Harrison ~
The Oompa Loompa farmer.....?
A well known government agency called and asked us to investigate cases of potential insurance and personal injury fraud. On one such case we were asked to investigate a male subject, who was in settlement negotiations for a total disability claim (in the $2 Million range), who had been seriously injured in his logging job.
Our standard background and case file reviews showed that he had recently purchased a 20 Acre lot in a rural farming area, where his home therapist performed physiotherapy treatments, so we decided to go and take a closer look.
Upon arrival we were able to see that the property was an isolated narrow tract of land with the primary residence and outbuildings (barn and greenhouse) in the foreground, sloping up and over a small hill, with 90% of the property out of sight from the road. We also observed freshly planted blueberry bushes and irrigation lines on the front 10% of the property, behind the house and barn.
Noting that the adjacent properties were dedicated to cattle and grain farming, and the rear property was undeveloped forested land, we approached an adjacent dairy farmer for consent to use his property for surveillance. We were given consent and told that federal law enforcement had also made recent enquiries of this farmer for the same purpose.
Two days later, after checking our camouflage clothing, and surveillance equipment, we set out at zero-dark hundred hours to establish an overwatch position where we could observe the majority of the property. We soon discovered evidence of the recent and ongoing planting of both blueberry and strawberry crops, along with irrigation lines, and support wiring and fence posts. Shortly after first light we observed the subject drive his tractor into the rear of the property accompanied by his wife and two teenage sons, we also videotaped the posts, tubing, wire, and tools being carried in the front bucket of the tractor. As expected the subject and his family proceeded to dig holes and plant posts, and string wire in nice neat orderly rows across the property.
While we were conducting our surveillance we also heard multiple vehicles arriving at the barn area at the front of the property, and then departing seemingly unrelated to the subjects farming activities. Leaving my partner/back-up in position and in radio contact, I carefully made my way to the front of the property to observe the heavily chained and padlocked barn and greenhouse areas. Sure enough, a few hours later an older model pick-up arrived with two large male passengers, who proceeded to unlock the chained barn door and enter carrying unknown items from the truck into the barn.
This was later determined to be the same biker marijuana "grow-op" that law enforcement was interested in, but had not started working on.
As with most disability claims we conducted multiple days of surveillance, identifying and documenting the money backers for the farm operation as well as the marijuana grow operation, and also finding that the subject had obtained 50 marijuana plants of his own, planting them on the adjacent rear property (government land) to boost his planned revenues.
After our investigation was completed we returned to the subjects grow area and established a blind a safe distance away. We then cut down the marijuana plants and set up 'crime scene' tape around the perimeter, and settled in to enjoy the show. Sure enough the subject arrived to check on his 'other crop' and was alternately furious (yelling and screaming at his wife and sons) and quietly retreating and looking for cameras and other signs that the 'coppers' were still out there.
The subject was criminally charged and convicted (at trial) of insurance fraud. The grow-op evidence and information was shared with local law enforcement, and they were able to pursue and prosecute both the subject and his associates.
If only ALL case were so much fun to work on.......stay tuned for more!